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USC's Lane Kiffin will announce a starter at quarterback on Monday

Trojans Coach Lane Kiffin says he will announce his choice between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek on Monday. The two sophomores have split playing time in the first two games.

September 08, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Cody Kessler completed 8 of 13 passes for 41 yards and an interception against Washington State in the Trojans' 10-7 loss to the Cougars on Saturday.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler completed 8 of 13 passes for 41 yards and an… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

A day after many USC fans at the Coliseum booed and called for his firing, Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday night that he would announce a starting quarterback Monday, presumably ending the shuffle that Cody Kessler and Max Wittek endured through the Trojans' first two games.

Kiffin said he would meet with Wittek and Kessler on Monday before announcing the starter and detailing why he chose one over the other.

A person close to the situation said at least one of the quarterbacks was told Sunday that Kessler was the starter. The person requested anonymity because they were told in confidence.

Kessler and Wittek, both third-year sophomores, split time during the Trojans' season-opening victory at Hawaii and in the 10-7 loss Saturday to Washington State.

Neither appeared to have distanced himself much from the other.

Kessler started both games and in just more than four quarters completed 18 of 32 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. He also rushed for a touchdown.

Wittek has completed eight of 18 passes for 90 yards, with one interception.

USC, which has not completed a pass of more than 19 yards, passed for only 54 yards against Washington State. The Trojans' longest completion covered eight yards.

Kiffin, also the Trojans' play-caller, said during a teleconference with reporters that while the Trojans have played "great" defense, he was "completely shocked" by the performance of a passing attack that was "terrible" and "a disaster" against Washington State.

Kiffin said he spoke with Athletic Director Pat Haden on Sunday, as he does after every game.

On Saturday, players took responsibility for the loss.

"People are booing Coach Kiffin and saying 'Fire Kiffin,' all that stuff and that doesn't help," Kessler said. "We've got to perform for him."

Said Wittek: "As an offense, I think we really need to just collectively get back together and we need to start executing."

Kiffin said "ideally" freshman Max Browne would redshirt and compete for the starting job in the spring.

As for the boos Kiffin heard Saturday, he said, "It just speaks to how passionate the 'SC fans are about wanting great success on the field. I feel the same way. That was not a product anybody should have been happy to see."

All-American receiver Marqise Lee, who caught seven passes for only 27 yards Saturday, had said that players planned to meet without coaches Sunday to "talk about it as a team and go over the things we can improve on."

Kiffin could not confirm that the meeting had taken place.

"I don't think that ever works," he said. "That's why we meet with them. We show them how the film is broken down and exactly what happened."

Quick hits

USC ranks 11th nationally in total defense, giving up 226.5 yards a game. The Trojans are first in rushing defense, allowing 15 yards a game. ... Tre Madden, who rushed for 109 yards against Hawaii and 151 against Washington State, is the first USC player to start a season with consecutive 100-yard rushing efforts since Marcus Allen achieved the feat in 1981, the year he won the Heisman Trophy. Allen rushed for 210 yards against Tennessee and 274 yards against Indiana. ... Torin Harris' interception against Washington State was his first since the 2011 opener against Minnesota.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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